The General Catechetical Directory of the Catholic Church proposes that evangelisation is at the heart of living the Christian life. The parish community exists in order to evangelise and each parishioner participates in that work. In this context the function of faith formation becomes clear. It is to enable the parish community to fulfill its primary task of evangelisation. Adult faith formation is key to this, the Directory tells us.
The word evangelisation is rooted in the Greek word for “good news.” Essentially, evangelisation is about us witnessing to our relationship with Jesus Christ by the way we live. A commitment to evangelisation involves a commitment to affirming the dignity of every person, to working for justice and to enhancing the reign of God.
Adult faith formation becomes essential to this endeavour. It enables the person who has been evangelised to become an evangeliser. Faith formation of adults in parishes enables the parish to be formed and transformed into an evangelizing community.
The archdiocese is committed to providing opportunities for adult faith formation and to supporting faith formation initiatives. The many parish and diocesan initiatives presently available include:
- parish pastoral council training, baptism team formation and family ministry training offered by the Office of Pastoral Renewal and Family Ministry;
- liturgical training offered by the Liturgy Commission;
- schooling in prayer and spirituality offered by the Prayer and Spirituality group;
- opportunities to reflect on contemporary adult experience so as to know and embody Christ offered by Chokmah;
- marriage preparation course run by Accord.
One of the key adult faith formation programmes running in the diocese is Soil for the Seed: exploring our faith as adults. This is a two-year programme, offered by the Office of Pastoral Renewal and Family Ministry, for adults who are open to exploring their faith. No particular qualifications are necessary for participating and there are no exams. The course has nine modules including:
- Exploring the Bible;
- Jesus, God’s beloved;
- Church: a sacramental people;
- Christian spirituality in the 21st century;
- Moral decision-making;
- Called to serve;
- Leadership skills;
- Inter-faith relations.
Family life is a school for evangelisation and parents and grandparents play an essential role in helping children to grow up to be adults who live lives that reflect the lifestyle of Jesus. Lessons of sharing, saying sorry, forgiving and loving without counting the cost are learned, first and foremost, at home. The challenge for the parish community is to have an effective family ministry that truly supports families as schools of evangelisation. Parents need to be enabled – with resources, training, suggestions, support and encouragement, – to share faith within the interactions of family life. Parishes are the leaders in this, supported by schools in empowering parents as faith educators. Pre-baptism preparation initiatives and other pre-sacramental programmes, including Confirming our Faith and Do this in Memory, play an important role here. The diocese also provides family friendly resources for use in the home around the liturgical seasons of Advent and Lent. It also makes available an online course for parents on handing on the faith in the home.
Handing on faith in the home is one of a number of online course from Boston College that the Office of Pastoral Renewal and Family Ministry is making available to people in the diocese.
The events diary on our diocesan website will keep you informed of courses and workshops and conferences that provide adult faith formation, supporting the work of evangelisation for the sake of the reign of God.